lundi 20 décembre 2010

JEAN MICHEL JARRE: Les Concerts en Chine (1982)

In October, 1981, Jean Michel Jarre becomes the very first Occidental artist to play in China since Mao Tse Tung death. It took 2 years of negotiations before the Chinese authorities agree to see the French synthesist set foot on Chinese land. Peking and Shanghai inhabitants will be the privileged persons to welcomed Jarre. And nearly 150 000 spectators will attend this strange musical celebration, where Jarre and his friends give 2 electrifying electronic concerts that flabbergasted and the Chinese people and other fans with the release of a splendid double album and also a video that, on the other hand, regrettably badly aged. Les Concerts en Chine also closed the first chapter of Jean Michel Jarre musical history; either his fully analog and cosmic areas.
Overture, which sounds pretty like the second part of Les Chants Magnétiques which was freshly release opens this concert. It sounds a bit different though with a slower and loopier rhythm which enchants with an unsuspected sound richness and acute synth solos with nervous touches. Even if we clearly recognize the inspiration, we hardly recognized it main structure. Arpégiateur, one of the unreleased tracks on Les Concerts en Chine double album, follows with a magnificent synth of which layers float in loops with those intriguing metallic percussions that collide like hiccoughing croquets which became the reference in e-percussions for Jarre. Equinoxe IV follows, on a more suave and slower tempo, with real drum strikes, giving a more rock dimension to this classic to be. After this track, we have rights of the first Polaroid sounds samplings of this China travel. On Chinese voices we can hear photo film unwind with sounds of flashes, as a tourist taking photographs of all what moves around him at night. The 2nd unreleased track is a powerful orchestral one in Jonques de Pêcheurs au Crépuscule. A superb track that allies Chinese strings and violin with cosmic, harmonious and sublimely melodious synth breezes. A monument and a classic which demonstrates Jarre creative complexity. After Band in the Rain, Equinoxe VII takes a quite different bend with the Chinese crowd, chanting and clapping their hands with a respectful and secret solemnity. A fine adaptation, with all those synths on stage that are creating a huge synth festival.
Other new track; Orient Express which goes on a sustained rhythm with slamming percussions and a sober and melodious synth which progress on intense humming and sinuous solos. Astonished, Chinese crowd hears a game of virtual ping-pong on Les Chants Magnétiques I. Original and totally stunning, the track is melting on railways samplers, introducing both gorgeous Les Chants Magnétiques III and Les Chants Magnétiques IV, which are played with a justness that we couldn’t think being possible. Simply impressive! Other strong element of Jarre concerts is the harp laser which amazes, both by its strangeness and harmonies which free out of it. Not completely in tune, this laser harp is melting to multiple samplers which fill out time and space and which bring a highly atmospheric mood. Shangaï Nights unwinds its analog loops with fineness on out of keys percussions and howling strata which mix ably with symphonic strings. After a last visit to Les Chants Magnétiques the concert ends with another unreleased track; Souvenir de Chine where melancholy dresses this track which progresses on heavy and wrapping strata, nice percussions and samplings of a camera which fidgets these last souvenirs.
Les Concerts en Chine is a remarkable work. A kind of compilation where Jarre gives a new breathe to some of his music, with the support of a very well sharpened group and a symphonic orchestra with a unique sonority which is a timeless souvenir that we listen to, nearly 25 years later, with the same charm and infatuation. A must to all fans of Jarre and a very beautiful way to discover this world cultural diplomat!

Sylvain Lupari (2006)
Cet article est disponible en Français sur le site de Guts of Darkness, dont je suis chroniqueur sous le nom de Phaedream :

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